In the last few years, Black people have effectively carved out a thriving social enclave for themselves, where humor, social issues and cultural discussions reign supreme. This community, constantly growing in its power and influence, is known as Black Twitter.
If you’re not familiar with “Black Twitter,” it’s the collective of Black users of the social network, who are quick with their responses to trending topics, shade-throws and new age resistance. It’s a powerful community that’s been able to shift perspectives and bring light to cultural issues, all while making us laugh hysterically. The wonderful thing about it is that anyone from Black celebrities to writers to everyday people can make an impact in the space.
But what began as a fun way to express ourselves has become a major power player in the digital landscape. Last week, the L.A. Times hired a #BlackTwitter reporter and now, the popular digital media outlets like BuzzFeed have staff who are always ready to share the latest from the online community.
Black Twitter’s appeal has a lot to do with the capacity to fire back at any person – celebrity or otherwise – that has crossed the line, especially when it comes to race issues. Users are quick to get topics trending in a matter of mere minutes. It’s quite impressive. Yet perhaps Black Twitter’s true magic is their ability to hop on trends and completely change their direction, as it was done last week with #WhiteGirlsDoItBetter.
It’s obvious that Black Twitter has something special and people are noticing.
Like so many communities, there are also clearly defined outsiders. Celebrities like Don Lemon, Raven-Symoné and Stacy Dash have been dragged for their problematic responses to Black issues and what some have called flat-out “coonery.” And then there are people like Iggy Azalea and Rachel Dolezal, who permanently live on the shadesiest side of Black Twitter’s spectrum of disdain.
But make no mistake, the Tweets are not only about serving witty side-eyes and memes that dreams are made of, they also are “here for” a select few and are quick to celebrate and uplift them. Black Twitter has adorned celebrities like Misty Copeland, Serena Williams, Ava DuVernay and Amandla Stenberg, in addition to “Internet celebrities” like Bree Newsome, who took down the Confederate flag.
There is, of course, also the subject of advocacy. If you think of how popular the #BlackLivesMatter movement, born out of a hashtag that went viral on Black Twitter, has now become, it shows the importance of social media in drawing attention to systems of racism. It’s also a space where the untold stories of police brutality and Black victims often find a voice. How much would we really know about the death of Mike Brown, for example, without #JusticeforMikeBrown?
Through a combination of humor, righteous anger and information dissemination, Black Twitter is an online community that is the site for meaningful cultural and communication exchange for the issues that affect Black people at local, national and sometimes even global levels.
As we have seen with the connection between Palestine and Ferguson, or the #BringBackOurGirls movement, Black Twitter has the capacity to go beyond Black America. So of course everyone is paying attention to Black Twitter – what it does for public conversation in the United States and beyond is important.
At its simplest form, it has given Black people, who are at the forefront of cultural nuance, some real tangible representation. It is a way thousands of Black opinions on communication, identity and community expression are being heard. And as it grows and transforms, like all things, it will need to figure out just how to harness that power, as well as create opportunities for monetary benefits for its participants. Because clearly, the media and other industries are already figuring out how to make money off of it.
It’s best that Black Twitter figures out how not to get left behind in its own dust.
The Rising Power Of #BlackTwitter, A Digital Community Doing All The Right Things was originally published on hellobeautiful.com